Although we don't handle the certification process, we've compiled the steps you should follow before applying on the official site.
We love our furry friends. We also love to look our best. While the cosmetic industry has a long history of testing on animals, modern technology has largely eliminated this need. Sadly, many of the cosmetics, beauty products and cleaning products we see on shelves and online still have ingredients that are tested on animals. This gap between consumer demand and industry practices have inspired the cruelty-free makeup movement.
Now more than ever consumers are reading labels, looking for certifications and supporting brands that do not test on animals. The most widely recognized certification in the U.S., Canada, UK and EU is Leaping Bunny. Not using the iconic Leaping Bunny logo on your packaging, marketing and website might leave your brand missing out on savvy shoppers.
If you’re looking to make your cruelty-free products Leaping Bunny Certified, keep reading for the steps you’ll need to follow.
Why Get Leaping Bunny Certified?
Not all “cruelty free” certifications are created equal. A Leaping Bunny Certification applies to cosmetic, personal care, and household cleaning product companies that pledge to refrain from animal testing during all stages of product development. This is an important distinction, as many products claim to be “not tested on animals” or “cruelty-free”—but their claims may only refer to the final product. With a Leaping Bunny Certification, you can assure consumers that your product is free of new animal testing at every stage of development.
Don’t just take our word for it, though. Amanda from Amanda Ross Skincare had a personal motivation for getting her company Leaping Bunny Certified: “I wanted our customers to be able to trust my brand. To trust the integrity of our sourcing.”
Becoming Leaping Bunny Certified can create many new opportunities for your brand. You may even see increased business from your certification, like Benjamin from Loving Naturals: “Leaping Bunny is a strong referrer and drives customers directly to our website.”
To apply for the Leaping Bunny Certification, your brand must first meet several criteria. To be eligible, your company must be:
- Based in the United States or Canada
- Selling its own line of personal care or household products
- Ready to ban animal testing for finishing products and ingredients
- Using supplies/manufacturers ready to ban animal testing for your company’s ingredients and formulations
- Prepared to make a commitment against any new animal testing going forward
Meeting the Criteria
Now that you know the criteria, you need to know the process. Leaping Bunny requires companies to complete and document four steps for the application process. We talked to several brands to hear their experience every step of the way.
- Choose a fixed cut-off date by which your brand will stop all animal testing by.
This date will apply to the entire brand, not just individual products.
- Establish supply monitoring.
Ensure that your entire supply chain, including product manufacturers and raw ingredient suppliers, adhere to new cruelty-free guidelines by your fixed cut-off date.It’s important to consider that you may have to drop suppliers to meet this criteria. For example, Julie from Blissoma informed us that their company has had to drop suppliers who were unwilling to commit to their new guidelines.
There might be instances when manufacturers are misleading in terms of their cruelty-free policies. Dominque at Apoterra Skincare experienced this first-hand: “Unfortunately, we had to change one supplier last year. They had previously indicated that they were cruelty-free, but then refused to sign paperwork backing up that claim. We had to drop them for this reason and find a new supplier that met both our and Leaping Bunny's standards.”
- End animal testing.
Simple enough. Adopt a cruelty-free policy throughout your entire brand and in every stage of production. This should reflect the standards that are verified by Cruelty-Free International.
- Welcome audits.
Be ready for (and welcome) audits at any stage of production to demonstrate that you’re following Leaping Bunny’s criteria. Think of this as your brand’s chance to show off, not stress out. Julie at Blissoma assured us that the process is simple yet thorough: “They do check to make sure that we have appropriate documents in place for each supplier.”
Fill Out the Application
Now that the hard part is done, it’s time to apply. The process is simple, but it could take some time. Be sure to follow each step carefully:
- Express your brand’s interest.
To start, you’ll need to fill out this online form as a way of notifying Leaping Bunny International that you’re ready to start the application process. First impressions matter, so make sure you utilize this as an opportunity to introduce your brand and its mission.
- Finish and submit the application.
Next, you’ll receive a packet to fill out. Don’t be scared to ask questions! It’s better to submit it correctly the first time than to repeat the process later.
- Establish a relationship.
Are you interacting with Leaping Bunny International, whether online or through personal communication? How active is your brand in the cruelty-free community? These are all things you should consider evaluating during—or even before—you fill out an application.
- Implement the criteria.
By this point, your fixed cut-off date should have passed and your new cruelty-free business practices should be in full swing.
If you’re feeling intimidated, don’t be! According to Loraine from Coloured Raine, “The most challenging part is divulging your lab information. However, there’s no way to verify certain information if the manufacturer isn’t shared with the verifier. The process in itself was seamless.”
- The results are in!
This process could take up to six weeks to finalize, so be patient! If you didn’t receive the certification, don’t give up. Leaping Bunny wants you to be certified, so you’ll be given feedback on how to perfect your cruelty-free practices.
Make sure to allow buffer time to get all the required documentation from your suppliers and manufactures and avoid any unnecessary delays! “It can take a few weeks to a few months depending on how many ingredient suppliers a company has,” Julie from Blissoma told us. “Getting the declarations signed by suppliers is the most time consuming part.”
- You’re approved.
Congratulations! But don’t go sharing the news just yet. Leaping Bunny International will need time to finalize your application before you can launch your products and brand as Leaping Bunny Certified.
International Considerations for Your Brand
Even though your brand is Leaping Bunny Certified, that doesn’t protect your products from post-market regulatory testing. Some countries have to follow strict regulatory procedures to ensure the safety of your product. To avoid a sticky situation, keep the following in mind:
- Some countries, such as China, require post-market animal testing.
- Even if your brand never funded or directly issued animal testing on your products, they can be pulled from shelves at random for animal testing in countries that require it.
- Your brand may face major backlash from consumers for approving sales in countries where animal testing takes place.
Case in point: The reputation of cruelty-free cosmetics brand Wet n Wild came into question when consumers discovered they were selling products in China, a country that notoriously requires animal testing—for now at least. In their eyes, Wet n Wild betrayed their cruelty-free mission and therefore their consumers. So, be sure to check any new industry regulations that may have passed in countries you’re hoping to reach.
Above all, your Leaping Bunny Certification lets consumers know that you share their commitment to the cruelty-free movement. This commitment may even become an important part of your brand: “The Leaping Bunny Certification is shared proudly and we communicate it often and loudly,” said Laura from ADORAtherapy. “Every box we make has the logo printed on it.”
If you need help communicating your Leaping Bunny Certification to the energized audience that is the cruelty-free market, contact Statusphere. We can connect you to influencers who share a passion for protecting animals and supporting ethical business practices.